ATV problems in the Central City cemetery district

atv-problems_cc_01Gilpin County Commissioners Workshop

By Randy Beaudette

Torn down signs, long term camping, and trash that litters the ground, that was what was described to the Gilpin County Commissioners in the September 20th “Cemetery Camping” workshop meeting.

Gilpin County Historical Society President Debra Wray acted as the spokesperson for the large group of Gilpin residents concerned with the destruction of the area west of Central City near the intersection of Upper Apex Rd, Columbine Campground Rd, and Kings Flat Rd. There are several historical cemeteries are located in the area. Wray stated that in the past 10 years, she has witnessed, the declining conditions at the cemeteries and surrounding areas. Also, that this uncontrolled activity is affecting the historical district, the environment, quality of life, and more importantly public safety.

ATV and motorcycle enthusiasts appear to be the main culprits. Since the Forest Service has closed everything except Columbine Campground, the large open area at the intersection has become a staging area, off-loading point, obstacle course, and campground for the off-road crowd.

Ms. Wray also stated that big RV’s, homeless campers and tents can be seen all summer long parking everywhere. Some are parked for weeks, only to be used on the weekends. After the weekends, all sorts of trash is left behind. She claims to have picked up gas grills, beer bottles, needles, and baby diapers.

“ATV’s are using the whole area as an obstacle course and using the road without registration plates,” Wray said,” And the signs posted that states “No Unlicensed Vehicles Allowed on Roadways” is worthless if not enforced. “

The Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office has stepped up patrols in the area after the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between the Gilpin County Sheriffs and Central City Police. That is progress in the right direction.

Most disturbing is the destruction to the graves. Many tombstones have been leveled and this is totally unacceptable. Once these markers are destroyed beyond recognition, they’re gone. It would be a huge task to restore the grave markers and place them back in the proper location.

Several solutions were brought forth to the Commissioners to include signage, fencing, and cement jersey barriers. Volunteers and Gilpin County Public Works can work together to accomplish these tasks at a reduced cost. An approximate material cost is estimated at about $7,320. The time and money invested in this area to reduce or eliminate these problems is well worth it.

Randy Simpson from ATV Experience Eco Tours addressed the commissioners, stating the he has previously work with Clear Creek County on these same issues and is willing to work with Gilpin County as well. Simpson conducts local tours based out of his Idaho Springs office. “Parking is a big issue that most ATV enthusiasts encounter when they go out.” Simpson continues, “If you provide a designated area for parking and access to the Forest Service roads, it will eliminate some of these other issues.”

Debra Wray concluded that she is concerned for a historic landmark, a place that is now over run by RV’s, ATV’s, and dirt bikes. It is out of control, and safety is a monumental concern. Now is the time to correct this. She is asking Gilpin County to work together with Central City to help in preserving and protecting our historical cemeteries. History is still important and part of who we are as a county and city.

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